Archive for June, 2008

British football association donates sportswear to DPRK

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

From Yonhap:

The British Football Association has donated some 600 items of sportswear such as gym suits and sweat pants to North Korea, a pro-Pyongyang daily in Japan said Tuesday.

The sportswear was delivered to the North Korea’s football association in a ceremony held in Pyongyang on Thursday with the British Ambassador to the country John Everard attending, the Choson Sinbo newspaper said.

Read the full article here:
British football association donates gym suits to N.K.: report


DPRK embraces comparative advantage to strenghten foreign economic relations

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No. 08-6-17-1

According to an article run in the June 10 issue of the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North Korean Workers’ Party, economic independence “is not closing the doors and solving everything 100 percent on our own,” and stressed the fundamental rule of ‘selling what is present and buying what is missing’, otherwise known as comparative advantage*, as the key to advancing overseas foreign economic relations.

The newspaper article, titled, “The Main Principle for Maintaining the Basic Path Toward Construction of a Powerful Economic State,” explained, “In every country there are limited resources, and at the level of advancement of the economy as well as science and technology, and on the principle of trading based on what is available and what is necessary in each sector, it is normal to give what one has and receive what one does not in order to advance the economy.”

This fundamental rule of strategic trade can also be seen in the July 2005 agreement reached at the 10th meeting of the South-North Economic Cooperation Promotion Committee. At the time, the two Koreas agreed to mobilize natural resources, funds, technology, and more as much possible, based on what was available in each state, in order to advance joint national projects.

The newspaper stressed that “not mobilizing domestic preparations and possibilities and relying entirely on outside [powers] to advance the economy is, in the end, putting the fate of the economy in someone else’s hands…by fully mobilizing in-country forces and potential as a base, resolving necessary issues through foreign economic relations is just secondary.” The article added that the country “must stand by this principle to build a strong economy with an independent strength that would not waver even if there were global economic waves,” and that this would, “increase and guarantee the physical livelihoods of the people.”

The article closed by noting, “the important, fundamental issue as [North Korea] maintains the basic path toward the construction of a powerful economic state…is keeping the economic structure’s distinctive qualities alive while technically reviving the people’s economy,” and furthering the development of heavy industries and national defense industrial sector.


*North Korean Economy Watch: “This is not the definition of comparative advantage.  Click here for wikipedia.”


Border guards and North Korea’s food shortage

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Last autumn, Chinese rice sold for 900 won/kg in northern North Korea.  The Chinese Yuan’s appreciaiton, combined with food export restrictions, caused North Korean rice prices to increase to about 2,000 won/kg this year.

Where does this money go, and what can these prices tell us?

According to an article in the Daily NK, this is how the retail rice price breaks down: 

37,600  won = purchase price for 25kg sack of Chinese rice
10,000 won = DPRK border guard bribe
+ 3,750 won = Chinese smuggler commission (150 won/kg x 25kg)
51,350 won = Korean smuggler purchase price (2,054 won/kg x 25kg)
+ 3,750 won = Korean smuggler markup (150 won/kg)
55,100 won = Retail vendor purchase price (2,204 won/kg x 25kg)

If the above numbers are true, combined middlemen commissions (Chinese and Korean smugglers) comprise just 13% of the retail price, bringing them just over $1USD per 25kg bag (appx 3,000 won=$1USD).  This indicates the field is fairly competitive.   In fact, border guards make more than both the Chinese and North Korean smugglers combined, for much less effort.  In all fairness to the border guards, they have families to feed as well and each probably paid a hefty amount for his job.  Besides, if they were not so corruptible, North Korean food prices would be higher.  Since North Korea can’t get rid of their border guards, the next best thing we can hope for is lots of corrupt ones.  If the market is competitive, North Korean consumers could see rice prices fall up to 18%.

Read the Daily NK article here:
What Is the Truth of the Food Crisis in North Korea?
Daily NK
Moon Sung Hwee


North Korea will attend ASEAN meeting

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

From the Bangkok Post

North Korea, one of the world’s most reclusive nations, will attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meeting in Singapore next month, Singaporean Foreign Minister George Yeo said.

Mr Yeo made the announcement last week during his meeting with Thai journalists on an exchange programme.

Asean foreign ministers agreed to invite North Korea to sign Asean’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) during an informal conference in Singapore in February.

Pyongyang joined the Asean Regional Forum in 2000 and has diplomatic relations with Asean nations. If North Korea signs the TAC, it would be considered a great advancement for peace-building in the Asia-Pacific region.

TAC is a regional code of conduct which encourages the peaceful resolution of conflict through dialogue.

TAC has been adopted by 24 countries, including the 10 Asean nations.

Read the full article here:
North Korea will attend ASEAN meeting
Bangkok Post
Anchalee Kongrut


North Korea deines epidemics

Friday, June 13th, 2008

RSOE Emergency and Disaster Information Service
Budapest, Hungary 

North Korea has denied rumors that avian influenza or hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is spreading in the country, a radio report said on Tuesday [10 Jun 2008]. The North’s health authorities notified the World Health Organization (WHO) that there has been no single case of bird flu or HFMD reported to the authorities this year [2008]. The denial came in response to a report published a week ago by South Korean aid group Good Friends, claiming that a mysterious epidemic suspected to be bird flu or HFMD has been spreading in North Korean towns bordering China. The disease has already taken the lives in recent months of many North Korean infants already suffering from malnutrition caused by food shortages, the group claimed, citing unnamed North Korean doctors in the border area.

WHO has rendered technical and monetary support to North Korea to help prevent possible bird flu outbreaks since the communist state was hit by the deadly disease in 2005. No new case has been reported since then. Jai Narain, the director for communicable diseases at WHO’s South East Asia office in New Delhi, was quoted as saying that the international body is working closely with the North Korean health authorities to prevent any potential bird flu outbreak and that Pyongyang has submitted related reports to the organization on a regular basis. The France-based OIE (Office International des Epizooties, World Organisation for Animal Health) also said that the North’s latest report to the office included no information or reports of any bird flu outbreaks, the radio reported. North Korea has inoculated poultry against bird flu to prevent the spread of the virus from neighboring South Korea, according to the North’s state-run news media. South Korea has slaughtered over 8 million birds since early April 2008, when bird flu broke out there for the 1st time in more than a year. But no South Korean has died of bird flu. HFMD, meanwhile, has struck over 10 000 people resulting in 26 fatalities, all of them children, in recent months, according to Chinese media reports.)


Japan to Lift Some Trade Sanctions on North Korea

Friday, June 13th, 2008

According to Bloomberg:

Japan’s government will lift some of its sanctions on North Korea after the nation led by Kim Jong Il agreed to begin a new investigation into the abduction of Japanese citizens.

Japan agreed to lift the sanctions after officials met with their North Korean counterparts in Beijing, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said today. Japan will end travel restrictions and allow North Korean ships to load humanitarian cargo at its ports, he said.

“We see this as a certain degree of progress,” Machimura said. “But this does not change Japan’s position that it won’t participate in sending humanitarian aid to North Korea at this point.”

“The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will reinvestigate the abduction issue,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency cited a government press release as saying in a statement today. The June 11-12 talks between Japan and North Korea were held “to redeem the inglorious past and normalize the relations between them,” KCNA said.

Japan stopped all trade and exports with North Korea in October 2006 after the country detonated a nuclear device. Japan last renewed sanctions, which it reviews every six months, in April.

Although both sides made very minor concessions, this move gives them greater political space in which to operate in the future.

Read the full article here:
Japan to Lift Some Trade Sanctions on North Korea
Toko Sekiguchi and Keiichi Yamamura


Report Shows U.N. Development Program passed resources to DPRK government

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

According to Fox News:

After more than two years of accusations and probes into the operations of the United Nations Development Program in North Korea, a weighty report finally reveals how routinely, and systematically, the agency disregarded U.N. regulations on how it conducted itself in Kim Jong-Il’s brutal dictatorship, passing on millions of dollars to the regime in the process.

The 353-page report, by a three-member “External Independent Investigative Review Panel” appointed by UNDP to investigate itself, was published with much fanfare last week after nine months of political maneuvering and research.

The report depicts an organization that for years apparently considered itself immune from its own rules of procedure as well as the laws and regulations of countries that were trying to keep weapons of mass destruction out of Kim’s hands.

It also shows that UNDP apparently considered itself above the decisions of the United Nations Security Council itself when that organization tried — as it is still trying — to bar Kim from gaining the means to create more weapons of mass destruction.

That is the same Security Council whose decisions, U.N. officials argue, have the weight of international law when applied to the United States and the rest of the world.

Yet despite those rules, and in the midst of a growing international storm of concern over Kim’s behavior, UNDP’s North Korea office, as well as other UNDP offices, continued to hand over millions in hard currency to the Kim regime and to transfer sensitive equipment with potential for terrorist use or for use in creating weapons of mass destruction.

“What this report shows is that UNDP has operated lawlessly for far too long,” said Mark Wallace, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who brought many of the original accusations against the U.N. anti-poverty agency to light in January 2007 after examining confidential UNDP internal audits of its North Korean operation.

“U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has indicated that integrity is a high U.N. priority,” Wallace said. “It is now up to UNDP to follow that direction.”

The latest panel report initially was passed on to reporters on June 2 by UNDP boss Kemal Dervis at an unusual press conference where he hailed the report’s conclusions, saying that “we finally have some closure on the allegations made against UNDP.”

The actual authors of the report were not available for questioning or comment, Dervis said, until they presented the document to a meeting of UNDP’s supervisory executive board in Geneva. The meeting begins June 16.

But a close reading of the long and dense document, replete with mind-numbing footnotes, shows that Dervis is wrong.

Among other things, the report confirms that UNDP hired North Korean government employees to fill sensitive core staff posts, in violation of its own regulations, and that the Kim regime picked the staffers.

Previously this had been revealed by a report done by the United Nations Board of Auditors in May 2007 in the wake of Wallace’s concern. The 2007 report noted that the same violations had been reported in internal UNDP audits going back to 2001.

The UNDP office in North Korea paid the salaries of these staff directly to the government in hard currency — another forbidden practice. The report dryly notes, in a footnote on page 96, “It was not clear how much of these amounts were paid to the National Staff, if any.”

In an effort that may have been aimed at keeping at least some staffers from starving, UNDP gave them all hard-currency supplements in cash — another violation of its own rules.

The regime employees filled such critical jobs as UNDP finance officer; program officer slots that helped to design and oversee UNDP projects in the country; technology officer, who maintained all of UNDP’s internal and external communications and servers; and even the assistant to the head of the UNDP office, who presumably was in a position to see much, if not all, of the boss’ paperwork.

Those violations already were known, although only in the barest detail. But the latest report reveals a fact that makes matters much worse: The regime-appointed finance officer — the person who wrote UNDP’s checks for 10 years — also was responsible for reconciling UNDP’s bank statements with the checkbook.

These two functions are supposed to be separated as protection against fraud. The importance of that separation is strongly underlined in UNDP’s basic guidelines called the “Internal Control Framework for UNDP Offices.”

The potential for fraud by a North Korean government employee, however, is discussed in the report only in dry bureaucratic language.

Despite that the review panel brought documents showing millions of UNDP financial transactions out of North Korea, the report shows — in a footnote buried on page 53 — that the panelists never saw any of some roughly $16.6 million worth of cancelled checks that were signed by UNDP. The reason: Kim’s bankers won’t release the originals or copies.

Without the checks, it is impossible to see if the finance officer made them out to cash or if the names on them match UNDP payment records and bank statements.

The North Korean regime also refused to let the panelists interview the finance officer.

The potential fraud risks are huge. The report notes that in 78 percent of a transaction sample of UNDP payment records that they reviewed, the signature on payment receipts could not be verified. For all the rest there was no sign of a receipt at all.

The report declares, with great understatement, that “it is difficult to determine the ultimate beneficiaries of payments made by UNDP-DPRK on behalf of itself.”

The panel sharply hikes — by millions of dollars — the amount of hard currency that previous probes indicated UNDP had passed on to the nuclear-arming Kim regime from 1997 to 2007, as Kim was ramping up his nuclear weapons program and ultimately setting off a nuclear explosion.

Hard currency transfers to Kim of any kind supposedly were forbidden, but the 2007 investigation already had shown that the rule was violated not only by UNDP but other U.N. agencies in the country.

The latest report says that UNDP spent $23.8 million on behalf of itself and other U.N. entities in North Korea, almost all in hard currency that never was supposed to reach Kim. The panel estimates that 38 percent of this, or $9.12 million, went directly to the North Korean government.

But that is not all. The report also notes for the first time that other UNDP offices and agencies outside the country chipped in anywhere from $9.5 million to $27.4 million more in hard currency to the Kim regime over the same period, on behalf of the North Korean office.

Using the 38 percent yardstick that the panel applied to in-country spending, anywhere from $3.6 million to $10.4 million of those totals might have been directly passed on to the government.

In addition, the report makes passing mention of an even bigger flood of cash: $381 million that flowed into North Korea from non-U.N. donors through an arrangement called the Agriculture Recovery and Environmental Protection, or AREP, Cooperation Framework. UNDP projects in North Korea formed part of that framework and, more importantly, helped to support the entire arrangement. But the report goes no further in tracing those funds.

Unauthorized hard currency by no means was the only support UNDP was offering Kim. The report greatly raises the number of sensitive “dual use” items — good for civilian use and for terrorist purposes or helping to create weapons of mass destruction — that UNDP handed over to North Korea. These included computers, software, satellite-receiving equipment, spectrometers and other sensitive measuring devices: 95 items in all.

The policy of unquestioned transfer of dual use items continued even as the Kim regime in 2006 conducted ballistic missile tests and exploded a low-yield nuclear device to the outrage and dismay of the rest of the world; moreover, UNDP acquired at least some of the items in misleading fashion.

The report notes that when some items were purchased, “it was not explicitly stated … that the equipment would be utilized by DPRK nationals working under the auspices of UNDP projects in DPRK.”

In at least one instance, the report says, an employee with a UNDP sister agency even supplied false information to a Dutch manufacturer nervous about end-users in North Korea, telling him that the equipment would be used by the UNDP office in Pyongyang when it really was intended for a faraway rural location.

The report also shows that UNDP itself rarely asked its suppliers about any possible limits on the use of sensitive export goods and, even when it was explicitly informed, made little, if any, effort to keep records of dual use limitations on equipment.

(The report does not say so, but with North Korean government employees operating as program officers, the lack of conscientious record keeping might not come as much of a surprise.)

The report then dismisses any notion of holding anyone at UNDP accountable for these spectacular lapses by invoking a concept of blanket immunity.

UNDP and its officials, the report notes, are immune from the enforcement of U.S. and other national export control laws imposed for anti-terrorist or national security reasons, under an international U.N. Convention on Privileges and Immunities.

The document notes that despite that free pass, a U.N. legal opinion has held that the world organization can be bound by at least some export license limitations when it is retransferring those sensitive goods.

But the people really exposed to penalties for most of the transfers are UNDP vendors who supplied the goods, because they lack U.N. immunity. The panel notes that in many cases, lack of knowledge of the true use of the equipment is not considered a legal defense by many nations, including the U.S.

Having said that, the report tries to sweep under the rug the explosive topic of UNDP’s obligations to the U.N. itself when the U.N.’s chief executive body, the Security Council, calls — as it did twice in 2006 — for bans of sensitive technologies to Kim. Those bans are known as U.N. Resolution 1695, passed on April 15, 2006, after Kim sent test ballistic missiles in the direction of Japan; and Resolution 1718, passed on Oct. 14, 2006, five days after Kim’s low-yield nuclear blast.

Resolution 1695 applied to equipment that might be used in Kim’s ballistic missile program. Resolution 1718, however, was much more sweeping and called for bans on any equipment that might be used in any kind of weapons of mass destruction, as well as travel bans for officials associated with the weapons program.

The panel report tries to take as little note of these sanctions as possible. Resolution 1718, for example, is mentioned in a footnote on page 195 of the report. The footnote calls its applicability to UNDP programs “relatively minimal,” and adds, “a significant majority of the equipment bought in connection with the UNDP-DPRK program was purchased before the passage of this resolution such that [it] was inapplicable.”

Since the report also notes that the records were badly kept or non-existent, this is a hard assertion to contradict. But it is a highly questionable assumption, at best. The report earlier notes that any UNDP-purchased equipment in North Korea belonged to UNDP until it was officially transferred to a host government. That happened to all the items of dual use equipment in North Korea at the same time — in March 2007.

At that time, UNDP shut down its programs after the hue and cry over UNDP practices in North Korea caused the agency to amend some of its practices — changes that the regime refused to accept.

UNDP officials have argued, and the report tacitly echoes their view, that the transfer of equipment when agency projects are closed down is normal practice.

Hardly normal are Security Council calls for the world, presumably including the U.N. itself, to stop transfers of exactly the kinds of equipment UNDP gave to Kim. There is no sign, for example, that the agency gave any thought to finding another method of asserting its property rights until the sanctions were lifted or of asking other U.N. agencies in North Korea to try to keep tabs on the gear.

UNDP “normal practice” apparently trumped world peace and security. The report passes over that complication, involving a rogue regime that had conducted illegal atomic blasts, and that the U.N. itself had declared an outlaw, without comment.

With the same effect of sheltering UNDP from charges that it aided in endangering the peace and security of the world, the panel report declares that any charges that UNDP inadequately supervised the projects in North Korea under its care are untenable.

It based that conclusion on voluminous paperwork provided by UNDP that proved, the panelists said, that site visits to the project took place frequently and were unimpeded.

But the report fails to put those inspections in the context of the fact that four of UNDP’s program and liaison officers, who manage and help to create programs and perform liaison with institutions and vendors involved in the projects — also were North Korean government employees.

(The report is equally silent on the role of the Kim regime employee who served as UNDP technology officer, who was in charge of all of the UNDP offices’ internal and external communications and its computer servers. UNDP communications and computers are supposed to be sacrosanct in terms of host country snooping. Instead, in North Korea, the potential snoops were in charge of the equipment. The potential implications of that fact are completely unexplored.)

Overall, one of the most striking aspects of the report is its lack of curiosity about whether individual members of the UNDP staff should be held accountable for egregious, longstanding and dangerous violations of UNDP rules and international law, not to mention common sense.

This applied notably to the presence in UNDP’s North Korean safe for more than a decade of $3,500 in defaced U.S. counterfeit $100 bills — “Super-Note” fakes that the Kim regime famously passed around the world. Possession of counterfeit U.S. bills is a crime. Even given U.N. legal immunities, it might seem an important matter to bring to the attention of one of the organization’s biggest donors.

Yet no-one informed U.S. authorities and senior UNDP officials claimed no knowledge of the fake funds, even though the bogus money was listed on annual reports of the safe contents for years.

The report’s assessment: “There is no evidence that anyone acted in bad faith or in a fraudulent or deceptive manner. Instead, the Panel finds that there was a clear lack of attentiveness at the [office] and Headquarters levels and that communications between the Country Office and UNDP headquarters were inadequate.

“Inadequate communications” is the explanation often given in the report for failures that allowed rule-breaking to continue, even as Kim openly brandished his nuclear weapon. The report notes that in August 2006 — four months after the passage of U.N. sanctions Resolution 1695 — the UNDP office in North Korea asked headquarters for guidance on dual use equipment transmissions to North Korea. It never got any. The project, which was based in part on receiving satellite imagery, had equipment that the report says already had been purchased.

Then, on Oct. 11, 2006 — two days after the Korean nuclear blast — a UNDP regional supervisor in Thailand answered the guidance request. He ordered UNDP not to purchase any equipment and “to close down the project immediately.” In the same message, according to the panel, the supervisor, Romulo Garcia, said he had received clearance from his bosses to close down the project in late 2005.

As it happens, U.N. Resolution 1718, imposing more drastic sanctions on North Korea, went into effect three days after Garcia’s sudden desire to follow up on a two-month-old guidance request.

The panel report’s conclusion? The 2005 decision to shut down the project “does not seem to have been communicated to the UNDP-DPRK office, as equipment purchases continued throughout 2006, including some dual use items.”

That Garcia apparently did not double-check on whether this highly sensitive order was carried out until a nuclear device exploded and another U.N. sanctions resolution loomed is never discussed in the report.

But the lack of discussion speaks volumes, both about UNDP bureaucratic efficiency and about the apparent level of UNDP concern and internal discussion of Kim’s dangerous nuclear plans.

There is one prominent exception to the report’s attitude of sympathetic understanding toward UNDP lapses: the whistleblower who brought most of them to outside attention and inspired U.S. diplomats to call for multiple investigations, including the panel report.

The report concludes that the whistleblower, a former UNDP-DPRK operations manager named Artjon Shkurtaj did, in fact, perform a service when he brought the situation in the UNDP’s North Korea office to light. But the report emphatically denied there was any retaliation against Shkurtaj when a promotion he already had been given was withdrawn and other short-term contracts he held expired.

Such claims, the panel concluded, were “without merit,” as it also made attacks on Shkurtaj’s personal integrity.

At the same time, the report offers evidence that the North Korean regime may have been pressuring UNDP to keep Shkurtaj out of the job and reveals the alarming fact that the regime apparently had veto power over UNDP’s ability to fund the position.

For his part, Shkurtaj has declared that the authors of the report violated customary U.N. practice when they failed to show their conclusions to him prior to publication. He has appealed to the U.N. chief ethics officer, Robert Benson, to investigate.

So it may well be that the ultimate message of the report is that passing on potentially dangerous equipment to a ruthless dictator who threatened his neighbors and defied the U.N. itself apparently was regrettable but otherwise a lapse in communication. Talking about such things outside UNDP apparently was something else.

Rather than bringing “closure on the allegations against UNDP,” as the organization’s boss, Dervis, hopes, the North Korean investigative report ought to raise bigger and more urgent questions about UNDP operations around the world.

If Kim Jong Il’s despotic government was able to twist UNDP’s rules and its adherence to international law with such ease, what is going on in UNDP offices in dictatorships such as Zimbabwe and Syria?

Most urgently of all, as the U.N. wobbles toward further sanctions on the nuclear-ambitious Islamic regime in Iran, what is going on in UNDP offices in Tehran?

Additional Resources:

1. Here is the UNDP report published in May 2008 (PDF)

2. UNDP Staff 2006 (2006).

Read the full story here:
Report Shows U.N. Development Program Violated U.N. Law, Routinely Passed on Millions to North Korean Regime
Fox News
George Russell


Lim Dong Won book published

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Today, the Daily NK publishes a review of Peacemaker: South-North Relations and the North Korean Nuclear Issue over the past 20 years,  by Lim Dong Won, “evangelist of the Sunshine Policy” and former director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service.

The book (not available in English) publicizes dialogues between Kim Jong Il and the author when he visited Pyongyang for the first Inter-Korea Summit in 2000 and as a South Korean delegate in 2002.  

Actually, the Daily NK’s article is not so much a review of the book as it is a series of interesting excerpts:

[Kim Jong il speaking] Joint Security Areais a good movie. I showed it to the generals of the military and cadres of the Party.’ All of sudden, [KJI] asked [the] general of the People’s Army Lee Myung Su and secretary Kim Yong Soon how many series of a South Korean historical drama, “Petticoat Government” they had watched. [KJI] said that ‘South Korea produces historical dramas well. I’ve instructed the Director of the Propaganda Department of the Party to learn the South Korean way of making historical dramas.’

Lim Dong Won also revealed that at the Inter-Korea Summit in 2000, Kim Jong Il agreed with Kim Dae Jung’s comment, “Even after the unification, the U.S. military presence in South Korea will be needed.” The former president Kim asked him “Why are you insisting through your media on the withdrawal of the U.S. military from the South?” and Kim Jong Il replied to him that he wanted President Kim to understand it was just to soothe the peoples’ feeling.

When Lim asked Kim Jong Il to visit Seoul in April of 2002, Kim Jong Il said that “In fact, I tried to visit Seoul in the spring of 2001, but the situation was changed due to George Bush, who looked on us as an enemy, being elected President of the U.S. Furthermore, the situation of the South was such that the leftists demanded that the North apologize to them for the Korean War and the explosion of KAL, and my visiting Seoul would have deteriorated the relations between the North and the South. Therefore, my close associates held me back from going to the South.”

According to his book, Lim revealed that a hot line has been set up since the first Inter-Korea Summit in 2000 and has been used when crises happened between the South and the North. In June, 2002, when a battle occurred in the West Sea, the North sent an urgent telephone-notice, saying “I heard with regret that it happened accidently.”

Read the full story here:
Veiled Dialogues with Kim Jong Il Revealed
Daily NK


Pyongyang Olympic torch route

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008


(Click on image for larger view)

Using Naenara and a Chinese language news broadcast, I pieced together Pyongang’s 2008 Olympic torch relay route.

UPDATED: 6/25/2008
The relay began at the Juche Tower and passed by the Golden Lanes Bowling Alley, East Pyongyang Theater (where NY Phil played) and crossed Chongnyu Bridge to West Pyongyang.  Here it passed the Friendship Tower (commemorating Chinese support in the Korean War), Chinese Embassy, Immortal Tower of Kim il Sung, Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum, Pothong River Gate, Central Train Station, Kim il Sung Square, Mansu Hill, Chollima Statue, Arch of Triumph, and finished at Kim il Sung Stadium where the relay ended. 

More on the torch relay can be found here.

This will be included in the next version of North Korea Uncovered (Goolge Earth).


China softens food export ban on DPRK

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Good Friends reports (via Yonhap) that China recently increased its yearly grain export quota to North Korea from 50,000 to 150,000 tons to help ease the DPRK’s food shortage.  China initially restricted food exports because of its rising domestic food prices.

North Korea’s corn imports from China rose 1,523 percent to 27,600 tons in February this year alone from the same period last year, according to statistics released recently by the Chinese authorities.

Read the full story here:
China softens food export ban to help alleviate N.K. food shortage: aid group